2009 O’s Retrospective: Luke Scott

In part thirty-five of my almost 50 part series “Better Know An Oriole” (otherwise known as 2009 Orioles Retrospective), I take a look at lefty slugger Luke Scott… THE FIGHTIN’ SKY WALKER*!

* You know, because he walks a lot.

Scott came over from the Astros in the Miguel Tejada trade, and hit well in his first season in the AL. I expected him to continue his patience and power approach this season, and projected him to hit .262/.343/.476 in 575 plate appearances (mostly at DH). With slightly above average defense in his limited time in left-field, that would have made Scott about a 1.8 Wins Above Replacement player.

After starting the year hitting well – .303/.375/.515 – Luke was put on the DL with a “shoulder injury” (Scott claimed he could have kept playing) in the middle of May. He was activated on May 27th and preceded to go on an absolute tear. He homer on the 27th, twice on the 28th, twice again on the 29th, and once more on the 30th. He OPS’ed 2.344 in those four games, and was about as locked-in as I’ve ever seen a player. Unfortunately he cooled off soon after, posting an OPS in the .700s the rest of the year.  Luke finished with a .258/.340/.488 that was very much in line with what I had projected, along with a team-leading 25 home runs. He didn’t get as many PA though, and his below average UZR in left-field (-2.1 in 26 games, or -9.4 UZR/150) kept his value down to just 1.4 WAR.

At the end of the season Scott did get into a few games at first-base, where he seemed to do OK in the small sample size (+9.5 UZR/150). Luke seemed to take to it well, though it doesn’t sound like the Orioles really consider him an option there next year. His .355 wOBA would be about average for a first-baseman, but if he could play well at the position – maybe not +9.5 UZR, but somewhere in the +5 range – then he would be an upgrade at there for the team (even splitting time with others) while retaining more value than if he was DH’ing. Alternately, Scott is going into his second arbitration year and so it might behoove the O’s to shop him to a team in need of an outfielder. That may very well be what maximizes his value to the franchise in the long run.

Photo by Greg Fiume.